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Arès (Municipality, Gironde, France)

Last modified: 2024-03-30 by olivier touzeau
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[Flag of Arès]

Flag of Arès - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 17 April 2022

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Presentation of Arès

The municipality of Arès (5,520 inhabitants in 2008; 4,825 ha) is located on the Arcachon Bay, 40 km north of Arcachon. In 1847, Jean Templier, Mayor of Andernos and miller in Arès, obtained the erection of a wooden chapel in Arès; this was followed on 9 January 1851 by the secession of Arès, which became an independent municipality.

Arès was in the Middle Ages the seat of a Barony ran by powerful local families, such as the Blanquefort, the Got and the Durfort. For centuries, the port of Arès, equipped in the 18th century with a stone wharf, was the most important port in the Arcachon Bay. The port was used by local fishers and oyster breeders (some 500 pinasses [local boats] were registered in the late 19th century), but also to export, mostly to England, Médoc wines and pine trunks used as mine posts. The two bronze cannons placed now at the beginning of the wharf were originally set up in Arès in the early 19th century to prevent a possible English landing, which was never attempted. The village of Le Canon, part of the neighboring municipality of Lège-Cap Ferret, is named for a similar cannon. The small stone tower "watching" the beach of Arès was originally built in 1840 by Louis-David Allègre, the inventor of steam trawlers, then the owner of the castle of Arès; the tower was originally a wind mill, which was abandoned in 1882 following the set up of the railway line supplying flour at a much lover cost, and transformed into a pseudo-watch tower.

The castle of Arès was later purchased by Léopold Javal, who, together with his daughter Sophie Javal-Wallerstein, is remembered as the benefactor of Arès. In 1847, Léopold Javal (1804-1872), a Saint-Simonianist banker, purchased from Allègre the Arès estate (710 ha) and the adjacent domain of Saussouze (2,000 ha), where he planted pines, dug wells and developed agriculture. In 1872, his daughter Sophie (1853-1947) inherited the domain; with her husband Paul Wallerstein, she founded in 1894 the first nursing home in the area, and, the next year, the Wallerstein Foundation, the oldest in the Department of Gironde. After Paul's death in 1903 during a hunting party, Sophie decided to use all of her time and wealth to manage the Foundation. On 15 March 1913, she inaugurated in Arès the "Aérium", aimed at healing poor children suffering from tuberculosis, rachitis and asthma. In 1942, "Aunt Sophie", as she was nicknamed by the villagers, transferred the Aérium to the Red Cross, anticipating the anti-Jewish laws subsequently implemented by the Vichy government. The Aérium was closed on 31 December 1970 and has been mostly abandoned since them. The 4A association (website) was founded in December 1988 to prevent the demolition of the Aérium.

Arès is the birth place of the Occitan poet Émilien Barreyre, remembered by a plaque placed on his birth house and saying A la memori dou felebre pescaire de las malineyres Emilien Barreyre mestre en gai-saber 1883-1944 (To the memory of the Felibre fisher of the sea's daughters Émilien Barreyre, a master in happy science 1883-1844). Originally a modest fisher, Barreyre wrote poems in the local variant of Occitan, including Las Malineyres (The sea's daughters). He was granted a "silver rose hip" prize in 1914 and 1940 by the Académia dels Jócs Florals (Academy of the Floral Games), a literary institution from Toulouse encouraging Occitan poetry, considered as the oldest literary society in Western Europe.

Arès is the only place in France, and maybe on the Earth, to have officially set up an UFO port (Le Parisien, 3 September 2010). In 1975, a group of inhabitants of Arès, led by Robert Cotten, an engineer in electronics at the Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, complained at the Municipal Council that Arès had no landing pad for UFOs. Probably to the great surprise of the proposers, the Municipal Council validated the request; the triangular UFO port was officially inaugurated on 15 August 1976 during the Oyster's Festival. The would-be visitors are free of airport tax and encouraged to join the local sports competitions. Started as a hoax that costed less than 1,500 USD, the UFO port of Arès soon gained world's fame, to the great benefit of the local economy. Ufologists, journalists and tourists came from all over the world to see the place; it is said that an American citizen sent a request to Ronald Reagan, urging him to follow Arès' good example.
The UFO port still waits its first visitor, as recalled by a plaque with the writing in Gascon, Que vos atendem totjorn (We are still waiting for you); on 4 September 2010, a flying saucer offered by a local artist (photo) landed on the UFO port and has stayed there since then.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 19 October 2011

Flag of Arès

The current flag is white with the current logo, adopted in 2017: photo (2019), photo (2022).

Olivier Touzeau, 17 April 2022

Former flag of Arès

[Flag of Arès]

Flag of Arès - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 October 2011

The flag of Arès, hoisted in front of the town hall (photo), is white with the municipal logo in the middle.

Ivan Sache, 18 October 2011

Club Nautique d'Arès

[Burgee of CNA]

Burgee of CNA - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 June 2009

Mostly involved in racing, Club Nautique d'Arès (CNA, website) also owns a pinasse, a traditional boat of the Basin of Arcachon; named Petit Cailloc, the boat represents the town of Arès in pinasses' regattas organized on the basin.
The burgee of CNA is horizontally divided white-blue-white with the letters "C", "N" and "A", countercoloured, placed near the hoist.

Ivan Sache, 2 June 2009